Yosemite with Kids Guide – Ideas for Ages 1 to 13+
Known for its stunning waterfalls and iconic rock formations El Capitan and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park also boasts a reputation as an ideal national park to explore with kids. From one-mile, stroller-friendly loop trails to more challenging hikes for older kids or experienced hiking families, Yosemite offers ample opportunities for parents and children to enjoy the wonders of nature.
We have a wide variety of excellent guided tours out of both lodges. For those who prefer to explore on their own, our Recreation Desks are a great place to start to get free expert advice from a local on the best routes, locations, and activities for your family’s interests. It’s one of the reasons why people call us your backstage pass to Yosemite!
Visit the Tuolumne or Merced Groves of Giant Sequoias just minutes from our lodges. You can also find daily activities for kids and families during your stay at either of our properties, Rush Creek Lodge and Evergreen Lodge.
Is Yosemite child friendly?
Yes, Yosemite National Park is known for being child friendly and a wonderful national park for families. During your visit, your kids can earn a Yosemite Junior Ranger badge from an official park ranger by completing the activities in the free adventure handbook available at any of the visitor centers.
Can kids hike in Yosemite?
Yes: Yosemite offers hiking options for kids of all ages and abilities. At just one mile and with paved portions, Lower Yosemite Falls is a great hike for young kids and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. The park includes longer 2- to 5-mile trails for older kids, and some of these, like the popular Mist Trail, get steep and strenuous.
What to bring to Yosemite with kids?
When traveling to Yosemite with kids, remember that temperatures may skyrocket into the 90s (℉) during summer days, yet almost always drop considerably at night no matter the season. Pack layers for these temperature fluctuations as well as lightweight, packable rain gear.
Water bottles are a must for staying hydrated, and parents benefit from a durable, roomy backpack for the inevitable carrying of the kids’ stuff as the day progresses.
Bring your baby carrier for hikes, even short ones. Sneakers work just fine for parents and kids conquering the trails. However, we recommend keeping the flip-flops at home. For any time of year, wear sunscreen and hats, and make sure to pack bug spray if you’re trekking in the late spring or summer.
Families should always bring a first aid kit and carry it with them for any activities in the park. See our What to Bring on a Day Hike in Yosemite guide and our Best Time of Year to Visit Yosemite guide for more information.
Explore Yosemite: Kid-Friendly Activities by Age Group
Whether you’re looking for short excursions suitable for tykes or longer adventures to engage grade-schoolers and tweens, you’ll find memory-making age-appropriate activities in and around Yosemite.
Toddler and Pre-K (Ages 1–5)
Introduce your littles to some of the planet’s most magnificent trees in Tuolumne Grove, a forest of giant Sequoias. The Big Trees Loop Trail is 2.5 miles round trip long and paved, making it stroller- and wheelchair-accessible and doable for shorter legs. Tuolumne Grove also includes longer trails for parents hiking with kids in carriers.
Take a dip with your kids in the Merced River at Sentinel Beach or enjoy sandwiches and wading in the river at the Swinging Bridge.
Yosemite offers several day hikes of various lengths and difficulty for parents accustomed to hiking with toddlers in carriers and who want to spend the day outdoors.
You’ll also find plenty of fun activities for young kids and parents at Rush Creek and Evergreen lodges. Enjoy our one-of-a-kind nature playground, created by famed designer Ron Holthuysen, our 60-foot embankment slide, pools, games, and a tunnel built specifically for little explorers. We’ve developed our properties with hidden gems like these to offer family fun, inspired by the joy of being outside.
School-Aged Kids (Ages 6–12)
If you’re traveling with kids aged 6–12, you can explore several trails under five miles long suitable for this age group.
An easy but beautiful hike, Tuolumne Meadows Trail meanders two miles along a flat meadow and passes Soda Springs, where carbonated water bubbles out of the ground. Tioga Road gets you there, and you can stop at both the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias and Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias along the way. Be aware that Tioga Road usually closes each winter from late October through late May, depending on snow conditions.
For more challenging hikes, take older kids on the Mist Trail or the Sentinel Dome Trail to show them the most iconic views in Yosemite.
The Valley Floor open tram tour is another popular family-friendly choice. This two-hour, open-air narrated ride takes you to Yosemite’s highlights, including El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, and Yosemite Falls. Stop at the Visitors Center to gather supplies for the Junior Ranger program, then after completing your Junior Ranger tasks throughout your day’s adventures, end the day being sworn in by a real live Park Ranger before you return to the lodge.
While you stay at Rush Creek or Evergreen lodges, take advantage of all the school-aged kid activities we offer daily. From our swimming pools and nature crafts to our onsite zipline and disc golf course, you’ll discover endless opportunities to have fun with your family.
After you’ve filled your day with excitement at Yosemite or on our properties, let your entire family unwind with us around the campfire every night for s’mores. A peaceful night sky adorned in stars will close your day with the cozy serenity found only in nature. We’re happy to facilitate your visit to Yosemite with an unforgettable family-friendly vacation.
Teenagers (Age 13+)
Visiting Yosemite with teenagers opens a new set of possibilities and challenges. While teens aren’t known for loving the great outdoors, you can make sure they have a great time in Yosemite with stops at Instagrammable spots in the park, adrenaline pumping adventure tours, and fun amenities at the lodges – including Wi-Fi in every room at both lodges.
Teens can embark on more advanced hikes and adventures, like the Taft Point trail that comes to a breathtaking photo op thousands of feet above the stunning Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. You can follow this trail through a meadow to the Point, where more photo-worthy views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls await.
Choose a full or half day trip world-class white water rafting on the Tuolumne River, see the pristine Tuolumne River Canyon on an off-road Jeep tour, or score major cool points with a Yosemite flight tour over the Sierra mountains.
At family friendly Evergreen and Rush Creek lodges, there are plenty of things for teenagers to do. All ages love Tuolumne Hall at Evergreen Lodge, where a pool table, foosball, and shuffleboard keep the fun going indoors, plus the lodge’s classic nightly s’mores that are a win with all ages. The outdoor pools are a huge hit year round, and winter sees snowball fights in the hot tub – an experience you can’t find in most places!
Warm weather activities that teens will love include swimming in the salt water pool and lounging with pool bar mocktails, stargazing, and swinging in the hammocks placed between trees throughout the lodge properties.
Frequently Asked Questions about Yosemite with Kids
Planning a trip to Yosemite with kids? Let the experts at our Yosemite hotels answer your most frequently asked questions about visiting Yosemite with the whole family.
How many days to explore Yosemite with kids?
The longer you stay in Yosemite, the better – but you can get the most out of a short trip with guided excursions created to help you see the highlights of the park, led by experienced guides who know the ins and outs of Yosemite’s history, wildlife, and trails. Get a jumpstart on planning your family trip to Yosemite with these two, three, and four day itineraries.
Do kids need hiking boots in Yosemite?
If you’re hiking in Yosemite, you need hiking boots – kids included! Proper equipment, especially footwear, is important when visiting Yosemite National Park. Spring and winter conditions require waterproof shoes due to wet trail conditions.